Isaiah 33:1-9: Woe To You, Destroyer, You Who Have Not Been Destroyed
New International Version
Woe to you, destroyer,
you who have not been destroyed!
Woe to you, betrayer,
you who have not been betrayed!
When you stop destroying,
you will be destroyed;
when you stop betraying,
you will be betrayed.
Lord, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.
At the uproar of your army, the peoples flee;
when you rise up, the nations scatter.
Your plunder, O nations, is harvested as by young locusts;
like a swarm of locusts people pounce on it.
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.[a]
Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets;
the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
The highways are deserted,
no travelers are on the roads.
The treaty is broken,
its witnesses[b] are despised,
no one is respected.
The land dries up and wastes away,
Lebanon is ashamed and withers;
Sharon is like the Arabah,
and Bashan and Carmel drop their leaves.
This word of woe is immediately concerning the Assyrian empire. The Lord here says “woe to you, destroyer”. God used the Assyrians to bring correction to His people. But they went beyond what the Lord desired and wanted to completely wipe out Southern Israel. God would ultimately intervene saving His people and the city of Jerusalem. But the downfall of Assyria and many empires before and after it is pride and arrogance. They believe their power and influence is found in themselves and their false gods. They fail to understand that it is the God of Heaven and all of creation who alone raises up and tears down kings (Daniel 2:21).
The Lord calls Assyria a betrayer and a destroyer. Often when political alliances are made between nations, those who have made alliances will hold to them as long as it is beneficial to those nations. But when the alliance and agreement is no longer beneficial, oftentimes betrayal will happen. Assyria was bent and driven by world conquest. But it is God who would rightly deal with them and one night a mighty angel would slaughter 185,000 Assyrians all at once (2 Kings 19:32-37). The fool says in his heart there is no god. This was the attitude of the king of Assyria and God would rightly deal with them.
This prayer is based on Isaiah 30:18. The Lord had promised to be gracious to Israel if they would but turn in repentance back to the Lord and walk in obedience to His ways. This is always God’s desire and when we fail to walk in God’s ways we invite the correcting hand of the Lord into our lives.
It says “be gracious to us, we have waited for you or we have long for you”. Waiting on God is waiting with expectation. It is waiting on God’s timing and purpose but coming each day in prayer and knowing that God will be faithful to His word. When our prayers are based upon the word of God and we respond in faith, the power of God is released in our circumstances to bring change and to bring forth His purposes.
The Lord is where our strength comes from, He is where our salvation is found. Some will trust in horses and the power of man, but it will fail them every time. But those who trust in the Lord will never be shaken. God is our rock and our refuge, when we walk according to His word and we choose to live for Him, God will always be faithful according to His word and promises. Everything He accomplishes on the earth is done by His power and His might. His power and might are without limit and without rival. The key is do we really trust Him. As Assyria surrounded Israel, their only hope was to trust the Living God to bring deliverance.
When God arises to deal with the nations, they will scatters. God is the captain of the hosts of Heaven. This means that God is the commander of the armies of Heaven. Often in this world we get focused on what Satan is doing because it is continually in our face every day. Often we forget and fail to understand the awesomeness of God. But God is fully in control. He never acts with a knee jerk reaction. God measures those He deals with on the scales and when their sin has come to maturity, the Lord deals with them perfectly in His justice.
Here it says “when you rise up, the nations scatter”. This is a picture of God seated upon the throne and when it comes time to act upon the earth, is when God rises to accomplish His purpose and His will. In the beginning of this chapter this word began confronting the destroyer or Assyria at this time. But this also applies to any nation that would believe itself to be great or powerful in itself. God is fully in control of all that happens on the earth. When our minds and hearts are immersed in the truth of scripture, there is a peace that only comes from Him that will consume every part of our lives. The peace of God is truly beyond human understanding. It can’t be understood by the logical mind, it can only be experienced by the child of God who trusts in the Lord and relies on Him for all things.
When the Lord deals with the nations of the earth and releases His judgement upon them it would be like locusts consuming the crops and the growth of the land. When God dealt with Assyria and Babylon and the time of judgement came from the Living God, there was no escape. No matter where they tried to hide, there was no place to escape. The only way to escape the judgement of the Living God is to humble oneself before God and repent of one’s sins. God is slow to anger and abounding in love. But when sin reaches its full, God will move perfectly. When locusts would come upon the land they would consume everything in sight. The same stands when the hand of God moves upon a nation. There is nowhere to hide when these things have been set in motion.
The rule and reign of the Messiah will be marked by justice and righteousness. It tells us in God’s word that the pillars of His throne are justice and righteousness (Psalm 89:14). When the Messiah rules and reigns He will do so from Zion or also known as Jerusalem. He will fill Jerusalem with justice and righteousness. This is a stark contrast from the time of Isaiah. During Isaiah’s day the kings and the people acted often in defiance to the Living God. But God so established His plans and purposes on the earth that when He Himself rules and reigns that it will be done as He has spoken. When God speaks and sends forth His word it will always be accomplished.
The rule and reign of the Messiah will bring security, stability, and a sure foundation to Jerusalem and Israel. At this time in history it seems that Israel is surrounded by enemies on every side. But currently we live during a time in which God is fulfilling His plans and purposes concerning the church age. But there is a time of judgement coming to the earth before the rule and reign of the Messiah.
But when the Messiah comes He will bring forth and release a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord will mark the time of the rule and reign of the Messiah. God during the time of Isaiah sent forth His word through the prophet and all those who had ears to hear and heed the word of God were saved and protected by the Lord. The same stands today. Daily the Lord sends forth His word, those who hold fast to the word of God and build their lives upon it today will be saved, delivered, and protected from the wrath that is coming to the earth. The way we diligently prepare for the coming of the Lord is to simply choose to live for Him on a daily basis.
Isaiah returns His words to the present day. Isaiah has been speaking about the time of the reign of the Messiah. But presently the brave men are crying aloud in the streets in terror as Assyria is moving ever closer to the city of Jerusalem. Those who were part of the envoys of peace who made a treaty and alliance with Assyria are weeping bitterly because Assyria has broken their treaty. This is the result of failing to trust in the Living God. God calls us to trust Him at all times. God told Israel to trust Him and not lean upon the help of foreign nations and foreign gods. But every time Israel acted in disobedience to the ways and purposes of the Lord, they brought hardship upon themselves.
The highways are deserted and the cities are despised because Assyria has broken its treaty with Southern Israel. They would plan to invade in 701 BC. But by the hand of God Jerusalem would be delivered at this time. But before God ended up delivering the city of Jerusalem there was great devastation that was brought to Southern Israel. But this again is the failure to trust the Living God. Isaiah goes back and forth between a current word of judgement for the sin of the people, but also the future hope in what God has planned in the rule and reign of the Messiah.
There is an important lesson in this for us. Currently we can get caught up in focusing on the darkness and devastation around us. But our eyes must be fixed upon the promises of God and the hope of Jesus' second coming. He is returning to the earth and though some would scoff at the truth of God’s word, our hope is built upon a sure foundation. For God will surely perform and do all He has promised concerning our personal lives and what He has spoken concerning the earth and the coming reign of the Messiah.
The land of Israel when Israel lived in obedience was lush and produced incredible harvest. It was a manifestation of God’s blessing and hand upon them. But because this is a word of judgement concerning Israel’s sin the land dries up and wastes away. The cities listed here: Lebanon, Sharon, Bashan, and Mount Carmel were lush with vegetation. But the hand of the Lord would move against them and when Assyria came through it would bring incredible devastation. God’s correction is always meant to lead us to humility and repentance. The road to restoration and healing always begins with repentance.